The Rogers Family Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, pamphlets, clippings, and photographs of the Rogers family and of a closely connected family, the Clarkes. The most notable individual included in the collection is J. Harris Rogers, the turn of the century inventor, much of whose papers are included. the Papers comprise 30 linear feet, contained in 19 boxes and 11 oversize containers, arranged in 580 folders.
The Rogers Family Papers are a slice of American history, containing a wide variety of items from 1803 to 1988, with a majority of it coming from the post-Civil War to the post-World War II eras. Among the subjects included the most extensively are the Inventive Age and Washington area real estate development.
The roots of the Rogers family can be found in its patriarch, James Webb Rogers (1822-1896), wh otook part in the civil War and had careers as a minister, a lawyer, a writer, and a real estate developer. Rogers had seven children, several of whom distinguished themselves in writing, real estate, the law and science. His oldest and most renowned child was J. Harris Rogers (1850-1929(, who was constantly at the forefront of the inventive age, always coming near to the fame for which he strove during periods of inventiveness in electricity, telegraphy, telephony, and radio technology. A. Mae Rogers (1858-1936) and Joseph Sebastian Rogers (1870-1898) excelled in writing, while James Charles Rogers (1864-1941) became a prominent Maryland lawyer. All of James Webb Rogers' children became involved in real estate, but especially Cora Ann Rogers (1867-1943), who married into the Clarke family, another family heavily involved in development in Maryland the District of Columbia.
The patriarch of the Clarke family was Rufus Lathrop Baker Clarke (1817-1910), a federal patent judge and brother of Sarah Jane Clarke Lippincott, a writer and editor who used the pen-name Grace Greenwood. His most notable son was Phillips Huntington Clarke, Sr. (1865-1930), who married Cora Rogers and made a name along with his son, Phillips H. Clarke, Jr (1905-1979), as a prime real estate developer in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
The Inventive Age (1870s - 1920s) was a time of great change, with hundreds of amateur inventors appearing all over the world, and just as many speculators and short lived companies as one could imagine. J. Harris Rogers was a good example of such an inventor, always pursuing the latest field of discovery, and his father and brother James Charles Rogers were prime examples of the speculators during this period: forming companies, selling stock, and pursuing patent legislation. The five series containing the correspondence, notes, legal documents, pamphlets, and clippings of J. Harris Rogers as he traced his way through the Inventive Age, focusing upon his involvement in the invention of underground and undersea wireless radio during the First World War and his subsequent patent legislation against the U.S. Navy Department. He also has correspondence and pamphlets from many other inventors of the time such as Nikola Tesla, Emile Berliner, and Hubbard Gardiner, and from companies such as American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T), Wanamaker Telephone Company, and others.
The American housing boom of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s was another time of immense growth and change, during which time many communities around Washington, D.C. came into existence and expanded. The Rogers and Clarke families were primarily responsible for much of the development which took place in Hyattsville and Bladensburg, Maryland, namely in Rogers Heights and Mt. Ranier, and in Randle Highlands in Anacostia, D.C. The series containing material from james Charles Rogers, Cora Rogers Clarke, and Phillips H. Clarke, Jr., among others, has much information on this development, consisting primarily of financial records, clippings, maps, and blue prints.